More on podcasting and Business Forward SMB podcast
"I think she's got it." -- Professor Henry Higgins
It was an experience, my friends, but I've finally nailed the various technical and software issues I was having in the podcast production process. There is so much more involved than simply recording and uploading to a server to produce a professional sounding podcast. I don't think you can fully appreciate the process until you do it. I certainly didn't.
Take a listen to the most recent program, Business Forward #6: Making Channel Sales Successful, our interview with SAP Channel Sales VP Dan Kraus. While the content of all the episodes is great (if I do say so myself), and the previous episodes sounded okay, this last one just sounds cleaner.
On another, but related, note, if you are a small business owner and will be attending BlogHer Business next month in New York, I'd love to interview you for the podcast. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Everything you always wanted to know about podcasting
Well, not really. But I launched a podcast for a client this month and in the process, have learned more about what can go wrong with a podcast than I ever thought possible.
The good news is, we've got no trouble coming up with guests or topics for the podcast. What has been killing me is all sorts of little technical crap. My husband and the designer who coded the blog are both quite technical and I'm no slouch either, but we were all pulling our hair out last week and this over a series of little things that just kept going wrong.
So, in the hopes of sparing you our fate, here's what we learned.
1. Don't use Podpress with self-hosted WordPress to burn your feed. The code for the player in the post works fine, but I could NEVER get a feed out of it. I eventually purchased FeedForAll and am burning and uploading the feed manually. The Podpress support docs were not helpful. Quite frankly, you are probably better off using Libsyn or some other podcast publishing host, but we've got a hosting account for the blog and can serve the files from there as well, so we chose to not do so.
2. Wait until you've worked out all your feed issues before submitting to Apple iTunes. Unless of course you want to understand every frakking line in the feed so you can troubleshoot it. Like I do now. Of course, if you follow the advice in number one above, you won't end up with weird directories that break your feed like we did. I'm sure some of this was operator error but man, it should be easier than this. The key thing to remember is: you can't edit the directory submission to iTunes. Any changes have to be done in the feed itself.
3. Podpress and the Database Backup plugin for WordPress are incompatible. At least with my hosting set-up. They each require too much memory. So we have to do the backup manually right now. Luckily I only publish once per week. When I have time, we are going to research another player plug-in as that is all I am using Podpress for, and I'd prefer the automatic back-up.
4. When you record your podcast, if words drop out in the playback, it is due to the buffering of the sound data. If you don't have enough memory, your podcast will sound like it was recorded by a drunk. Options: more memory, increase the page file size or record at a lower bit depth You do not want to know how long it took me to figure this out. Let's just say the take of Marketing Tips now up on Business Forward was well-rehearsed.
Finally, I still can't figure out how to use the Noise Gate in Sound Forge. Anybody want to talk me through it? And please don't tell me to RTFM. I've tried that and am still confused.
In other news, Battlestar Galactica returns with new episodes on April 4th and <spoiler alert> Carson Beckett is back on Stargate Atlantis tonight. These, my friends, are my silver linings.
Syndicate Wed. Afternoon: Building a Business Case for Podcasting
Podcasting: "Makes sense. Do we do it now or in 6 months?"
Schwartzman's opening remarks are on his blog.
This panel did a great job covering how clued-in big media companies can integrate podcasting (and blogs) into their mix.
Mike Ellcessor from WNYC covered how his station saw podcasting as a response to the increasing fragmentation of radio. They initially viewed as podcasting as an experiment. They had a number of programs that they thought might reach beyond the usual geographic WNYC audience; in particular, On the Media, nationally syndicated by NPR, is produced by WNYC. They also podcast segments from some of their daily talk shows. Primary goal was to increase their 1:1 relationships with their audience, which makes sense for viewer-supported television :-)
Jeff Burkett manages the online properties for the Washington Post, Newsweek and Slate. His group builds online vehicles that must meet the needs of both the edit and advertising sides of the business, so figuring out how to do advertising within the podcast was one of the objectives. He commented that he is in the mass media (versus long tail) so a different set of economics applies.
[Comment: In fact, all three of the panelists here are mass media. They have both different resources and requirements than an entrepreneur or hobbyist considering a podcast as a revenue or brand opportunity or just something fun to do.]
Back to the panel. Burkett says that they just appended traditional radio and tv spots to the pod- and vid- casts, a solution that he hopes to replace with something more tailored to the new media as time goes on.
Heather Green from BusinessWeek,one of the co-authors of the well-known May 05 BW cover story on blogging, then talked about her involvement with blogs and podcasting. Since she is on the editorial side of the book, her perspective was slightly different from the previous two speakers. . The economics, at least vis her own podcast, aren't her main interest [Comment: although it might be the publisher's :-) ] For her, podcasting is an experiment; "you have to try it." She considers podcasting a disruptive technology that changes the landscape whether or not it has a business model.
Schwartzman asked the panelists how they built the business case for podcasting.
Ellcessor said they knew there was interest outside the NY area for their radio programming. Podcasting was cheap and easy for them. They also kept it in an experimental context, which let it succeed without high expectations.
Burkett related much the same thing -- podcasting was considered an experiment.
Green didn't have to build a business case. She talked about how she viewed the three publishing vehicles she has available for her content: her blog, her podcast and the print publication. She mostly uses the blog for random stuff that doesn't fit into the print story and to report on interesting "meet and greets" that don't fit into any current projects. On the podcast, she interviews interesting people, including past interview subjects. One dilemma: how much does she hold back for a story, how much does she put out there.
The entire panel talked a bit about the valuation of podcast advertising. Prevalent models, CPM and sponsorship. Green said she thought podcasts will be sold as part of a package of multiple media. This makes sense to me. She also commented that very few people are going to make any money at podcasting. My opinion: I think it will depend on how you define "make money." If we define it as purely ad-supported, she's probably right. If we look at podcasting as part of a larger package (or brand), I think it can substantially contribute to revenue. Just hard to measure.
Questions from the audience.
Sam Whitmore asked if they knew what percentage of audience listened on an iPod or MP3 player versus a computer? No one did, but there was a lively exchange about the value of knowing how the audience is listening. The iPod listener is potentially more valuable than the multi-tasking PC listener.
Someone asked WNYC, how do they prevent podcasting from damaging their fundraising efforts. The answer was pretty much, we can't completely, but we went into it with our eyes wide-open, and try to live by the creed, "first do no harm."
What's the ideal length? No answer to this one, not even from these experts. The WNYC podcasts are created from radio inventory; On the Media is its normal 59 minutes and the talk show segments range from 20-40 minutes.
For Burkett (WaPost) it depends on what the podcast is about. For example, he hates that Onion Radio News is only 30 seconds, feels it should be 5 minutes.
What instincts do you have about the listener, common traits? Mike: time pressed; Jeff: agreed time pressed, therefore harder to reach on radio and TV; Heather: classic early adopter, highly educated, high income/net worth, more women than we thought.
Finally, can the little podcaster compete with mainstream media? Panel thinks yes. Mike: talent will prevail, as long as you master the basics, offer a certain level of sound quality. Jeff: it is all about people and their passions.
The last question was an off-topic question for Heather Green related to a recent article "Is it 1998 again?"
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More Syndicate coverage: Syndicate and me. Syndicate and marketers.
Home stretch. Before I get to the Wed. afternoon sessions, a word about why I attended Syndicate.
To start with, I was personally interested in the topics, especially podcasting. So when Corante issued the call to its blogger partners to attend Syndicate and blog the event, I jumped on it. As a small business, I can afford the trip to NY or the conference registration, but not both. Covering the event was a win-win. I covered my trip, but didn't have to pay for registration. I'm very grateful to Corante and IDG for the opportunity.
In return, I am taking the commitment to blog the event very seriously. I didn't miss many sessions and hope that my marketing and PR colleagues are enjoying the reports. Given comments about how few marketing and PR folk (versus tech) attended the show, I'm glad someone with the marketing perspective is writing up the event in detail. Why?
Because change is a slow process. Marketers and PR folk who haven't yet made the leap into the blogosphere may be thinking hard about it, but still reluctant. For whatever reason. They aren't going to attend a conference about syndication, 'cause it just doesn't seem relevant in their day to day jobs. Probably isn't. Even if they are blogging or podcasting, the conference definitely has the feel of a tech (versus marketing or business) oriented event. Cause it kind of is...
But... many of the topics that were discussed are relevant to the issues on the marketing and communications plate. I hope that my blog entries about it may spark someone -- to try something new, attend the next conference, start their own conference, push hard at their industry associations, maybe even just to finally start their own blog.
So, if client work willing and the creek don't rise, I'll get the rest of my summaries up by the weekend.
Syndicate Wednesday Morning
First things first, my number one fan says maybe I was too hard on Amanda Congdon in my post about Tuesday's keynote session. Which was not my intent. I enoy Rocketboom, think she is tremendously talented and wish her and her colleagues all the success in the world. I just didn't get a lot out of her session, and thought it was a bit basic for the Syndicate audience. But she clearly has a lot of passion for what she is doing, and others did enjoy it, so there you have it.
On to Wednesday's sessions.
Steve Gillmor's "It's the Gestures, Stupid" -- The title of this session is homage to James Carville's "It's the economy, stupid" phrase from the first Clinton election oh so many years ago. As Gillmor pointed out, Carville's "stupid" (and his as well presumably) was self-reflective -- a reminder to himself of what was important, not a commentary on others. Nonetheless, there were quite a lot of us in the room with looks of total incomprehension during Gillmor's talk. Who all felt a lot better when Doc Searls commented in his closing session that even he doesn't fully understand what Gillmor is talking about.
So, I am not even going to try and summarize what Gillmor covered in his session, other than to tell you that I *think* the gestures concept and Gillmor's Gesture Bank (www.gesturebank.com) is an open source model for the aggregation of meta data. I've signed up for the public beta because I am now curious. I'm sure more than a few folks did the same. And perhaps that was the primary goal all along. We don't get it yet, but we will.....
Gillmor was followed by Steven Schwartz of Reuters, "Syndicating the Publishing World." This was a typical polished corporate presentation, with slides and all, that might as well have been titled "Why Reuters loves the Web." Schwartz was extremely good at staying on message -- I lost track of the number of times he told us that Reuters is the "world's largest news agency" :-)
Thinking about it afterward, the two sessions - Gillmor and Schwartz - couldn't have been more different. The contrast between Gillmor's informal style and Schwartz's corporate demeanor was marked. I didn't understand everything (much!) of what Gillmor said, but I got the gist that there were some important ideas lurking in "gestures." Whereas, I understood pretty much Schwartz's whole pitch, but I could have gotten the same information from a Reuters fact sheet.
More Syndicate Tuesday
Stormhoek Sauvignon Blanc is nice, but the Pinot Grigio is FINE. The wines were served at KnowNow's reception tonight (and a later party which I intended to go to but just crashed). I wish I could figure out a reasonable party for a Stormhoek gig, Wonder if they'd go for a non-geek dinner.....I could definitely do a a dog show thing....
The Edelman session this morning was by far the best today, at least for a marketing/comms person. Here's the summary of the other sessions I attended today.
Building Brands Through Compelling Podcast Content, Paul Gillin (moderator), Scott Sigler, Gretchen Vogelzang and Paige Heninger (Mommycast.com) and Audrey Reed-Granger (Whirlpool). Overall this was an interesting session, but the thing that sticks with me the most is Reed-Granger's narrative of how she got the podcast approved. The critical elements: the trust (and good track record) she had established with corporate leadership combined with a clear editorial calendar and vision for the podcast. The discussion on how to include/integrate corporate interests/sponsors was also interesting; the podcasters clearly came down on the side of a clear separation between church and state. I was also impressed by the passion they all had for podcasting.
Grokking the Big Picture, Paul Gillin (moderator), David Geller, Mike Davidson, Dave Sifry, Eric Elia. Most of this session just seemed a rehash from other conferences, other arguments. Interesting if you've never heard or read it before but otherwise ? Blah blah blah. Most interesting comment: Mike Davidson's that RSS was missing the "oh wow" factor, perhaps part of the reason for slow uptake. Not to mention RSS is still too hard for the average bear. See what I mean. Nothing that new.
Sifry did announce a deal with Paramount for Technorati to aggregate the conversation around selected Paramount films, which will be hosted on the Paramount sites. This sounds very interesting, plan to keep my eye on it. Then there was a long discussion of full versus partial feed.Yawn. Nothing new. There are arguments to be made for both. It's an easier decision for full feed if you are not trying to monetize the blog. When they got to questions the sessions turned into "speaking from the floor" and I got kinda bored. Sorry :-(
This session did spark my interest in clarifying the differences among all the different news aggregators (Techmeme, Digg, Newsvine et al), so watch for that this month.
David Weinberger, Tagging. I enjoyed this session, which was held more as a conversation than a presentation. Gist: The power of tagging isn't in the self tagging that an author does of his/her own material. That is just simple metadata. The richness comes from users tagging material that they find interesting in ways that are meaningful to them using social networking tools like flickr and del.icio.us. Because the tagging is public, we get the social effects -- others use the same tag for similar but not necessarily the same type of content and tag the same content with additional tags meaningful to them. Clusters develop around tags, and so forth. Suddenly, your tag for an article introduces you to all sorts of other material. Subscribe to the tag and you get a steady stream of stuff that you might never find in normal reading of Web sites and blogs.
Short story: this session cleared up a lot of my confusion about the value of tagging. Things to ponder: the ownership of content changes now that folks can classify things the way they want (bottom up versus top down). How other people tag our content can start to define, even change, our online personas.
Halley Suitt, Top Ten Sources. This session was mostly an introduction to Halley's new venture Top Ten Sources. She talked a little bit about the issues raised when they launched the site re: syndicating other bloggers' content and answered questions about their business model. She also read two past blog posts, one written when her father died and another on alpha males.
Amanda Congdon, Rocketboom. I didn't get too much out of this session. I sense that Amanda is more comfortable in front of the camera than behind the podium. The content was also wrong for the Syndicate audience -- there was nothing that most didn't already know.
Shopping accomplished: a pair of cute sandals on sale at Coach (hotel is on Madison Ave.)
Wednesday: the bad boys of PR and more.
It's Springtime, Must be Showtime
It's a rite of passage -- that moment when you realize that the bulk of industry conferences and trade shows are scheduled in the Spring and early Autumn. Not all, mind you. There are trade shows going on all year long in the USA. But the concentration in May June September and October, at least in the US, is amazing. You could literally go from conference to conference, just returning home to get clean shirts and underwear. I suppose some people do.... At least I hope they are getting clean undies....
Anyway, here are a few conferences and events coming up over the next few months that marketing and PR folk should check out.
Next week in NYC, Syndicate (May 16-17). Everything you always wanted to know about syndication. I will be live-blogging the conference for Corante. Posts will appear here and on the Corante Marketing Hub for sure, maybe some other places too. PubSub is aggregating the blogs from speakers, sponsors and attendees.
NYC, June 8-9, the 2006 Innovative Marketing Conference, sponsored by Corante and the Center on Global Brand Leadership of Columbia Business School. It is a two-day event. The first day is a "CMO Summit" for CMOs and VPs of Marketing. The second day is a "Marketer's Forum" open to the public. I'm not attending this one, as I have a conflict, but the speaker list is fantastic, so I urge you to check it out. Somewhere in my pile of email is a note that my readers can get a discount, so if anyone is interested, drop me a note and I'll dig it out.
Interested in bank marketing? I certainly am, thanks to my client who sells CRM systems for banks! The Boston Chapter of the AMA is getting an exclusive first look at TD Banknorth's new marketing campaign from Tom Dyck, TD Banknorth EVP and Director of Marketing. The presentation will be held Friday June 9 from 11 am - 1:30 pm at Banners Restaurant at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. Plus we get a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Garden, including areas not usually accessible to the public.
San Jose, CA July 28-29. BlogHer. Day One is sold out, but last I heard, there was still space at the cocktail party and for Day Two. Come be part of the Business Blogging unpanel on Day Two that I am doing with Yvonne DiVita and Toby Bloomberg. We want you to come share your stories!! The whole concept of the unpanel is that everyone participates and together we build a collective deliverable. In this case, we'll call it best practices for business blogging. More background on the unpanel in this post. And more to come late May, early June.
Disclosures: I am a member of the Corante Marketing Hub and the Boston Chapter of the AMA, and a speaker at (and longtime fan of) BlogHer.
Checking in, then checking out
Apologies for the light week. I will get back to a regular schedule in a few weeks. For now it is a bit spotty.
A bit on podcasting. Shel Holtz located an interesting research report, and subsequently linked to a very funny post by Steve Gillmor about the "death of podcasting." Net net: podcasting is here to stay, figure it out, decide if it makes sense for your marketing plan, embrace it if it does, and if not, just listen to the podcasts that turn you on. I like the Hobson and Holtz Report (for business) and The Signal for fun.
Don't know what The Signal is all about. Don't worry. In September, you will :-) Listen to the podcast or send me an email if you can't wait.
I am off on a family vacation tomorrow to Ocean City MD and then to blogher in Santa Clara. I may post before then, but if not, you can definitely expect my blogher presentation sometime on Saturday the 30th.
And first week of August will mark the 2d issue of Marketing Roadsigns, our companion newsletter.
And finally from the PR blogosphere (seen everywhere):
Shari Kurzrok - a dear member of our family, a friend and a colleague - is in need of a liver transplant.
Today (July 20th), her condition became critical. Her team of doctors at NYU Medical Center have indicated that her liver has failed and completely shut down, leaving us only a matter of 2-4 days to save her life. Shari's only hope right now is to receive a liver transplant.
As such, our time is limited. However, you can make a serious difference by forwarding this message to as many people you know - friends, family, and former colleagues. Specifically, we need:
1) To reach anyone who may be in a position to make a liver donation within the next 2-4 days.
2) Everyone to spend a moment today, sending a prayer or thought to Shari in this critical hour.
Shari is 31 and grew up in Great Neck, New York, and is the daughter of Mort Kurzrok. Shari and her fiancé, Rob Schnall, are engaged to be married this October in Long Island. While Shari is deeply loved by her family - she's also been a beloved member of the Ogilvy PR family for more than five years. Her efforts for the Red Cross' award-winning blood drive work speak volumes about her character and humanitarian nature.
3) Tell a friend or share a note of concern
If you can provide immediate assistance in locating a potential donor, please contact us at (877) 223-3386 or email: email@example.com.
Podcasting in business?
One of the things I try to do on this blog is put things in a practical context for marketers who are trying to figure how (or whether) to integrate new technologies like RSS, blogs and podcasting into their marketing plans.
Podcasting has been the issue du jour (or semaine I suppose) with (among others) Dave Taylor and John Wagner representing the "podcasting doesn't work for marketing" contingent, and Ben McConnell, Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz coming in on the pro-podcasting side. Not surprisingly, they all make good arguments for their point of view. And John does appear to be softening.
But like so many discussions in the blogosphere (remember character blogs), I think many of the anti-arguments are confusing content with form, and dismissing the form because some examples of the form aren't particularly good. Blogs and podcasts are forms, or channels of communication if you prefer. The opinion, messages, stories, pictures, etc. etc. communicated on blogs and podcasts are the content. Some blogs have good content, others not so. The same is true of podcasts.
From a practical marketing point of view, I think the answer is that podcasting CAN be a useful component in a marketing plan, under the right circumstances. Just because "everybody is doing it" is not a good reason. Every business doesn't need a blog. The same is true of podcasting. The right reason to do a podcast for your business is because it will be an effective tool for communicating your message.
So what makes a podcast special, and more than just web-delivered audio content? Two things: the ability to subscribe to a feed and then easily download the material to a mobile device (MP3 player, iPod). So, if your intended audience for your marketing message does these two things, a podcast might be a very effective way of communicating with it on a regular basis. And as the technology improves, more and more listeners will shift from portable CD players to portable music devices, opening up a larger potential audience.
In particular, I believe podcasts will be an effective addition to the MarCom plan for high stakes messages. There's been research that shows that people RETAIN a message they heard better than a message they read. [Note: if someone has the original reference and research, I would be ever so grateful. I have it somehwere but I just can't surface it.]
So, if you have a very important message or story you want to communicate to your audience, and they are mobile listeners, a regular podcast on the topic that drives home these high stakes messages could be a very nice supplement to your written and visual materials. Doesn't replace the written content; we need both. And it has to be entertaining, which is of course the hard part. A good podcast should be indistinguishable from a good radio show...assuming of course you want people to listen all the way through and more than once.
Now, I am a prime target for a good marketing podcast. I've had an iPod for more than two years, and I take it with me whenever I travel. I listen to it in the car, when I work out and at my desk.
I would be thrilled with a regularly updated podcast from a fitness company that mixed music, health tips, fitness tips and the like, delivered in 15, 30 and 45 minute segments.
Are you listening Gatorade? I might buy your Propel fitness water more often if you were reminding me..subtly... every time I worked out.